Centre for Research on Globalisation
Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation

George Soros and the Rise of the Neo-Centrics

by Walt Contreras Sheasby

www.globalresearch.ca 18 November 2003

The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/SHE311A.html

2003 has seen the rise of a new current in US politics, best described as Neo-Centrics, or simply Neo-Cens, for ease of comparison with a better known defection of Socialists to the Conservative Right. Although allied with long-time social democrats (who were once distinguished by whether they accepted secret funding in bags from John A. McCone's office or Armand Hammer's office), the Neo-Cens are former radical critics of "lesser-evilism" who have decided a year before the 2004 election that the whiff of fascism is in the air.

Funding for a some of the Neo-Centrics comes from George Soros, who gives away $400m a year through his Foundation and thus subsidizes many of the activist groups, luminaries and publications of the American left, probably dwarfing the sums that once trickled out of Langley or Moscow. Soros does not control the left, as right-wingers imagine, but his monetary influence is one of those hushed secrets inside the left usually dismissed as conspiracy-thinking. He has given $60,000 to the Independent Media Institute, whose executive director, Don Hazen, is a former publisher of Mother Jones. A $50,000 grant went to the Nation Institute to support Radio Nation. KPFA received a $40,000 grant in 1995. A $35,000 grant went to American Prospect magazine. The list goes on and on.

$150,000 has gone to the Feminist Majority Foundation, whose President, Eleanor Smeal, once broke with the Democrats and formed the 21st Century Party before endorsing Clinton. $75,000 went to Robert S. McIntyre's Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, $50,000 to the Network for a Progressive Texas, $75,000 to the Economic Policy Institute, and even $200,000 to the prison reform group, Critical Resistance. Christian Parenti, a writer on the prison-industrial system and son of Michael Parenti, is a Senior Fellow at George Soros's Open Society Institute (named after a book by his fiercely anti-Marx mentor, Karl Popper), as are a number of other radicals.

All his gifts to the radical left are penny ante compared to his high stakes, his dispensations to the liberal democrats, however. On Tuesday, Nov. 11 Soros told the Washington Post that the day before he had given five million dollars to MoveOn.org to benefit Howard Dean. He has donated more modest sums to other Democratic candidates and had already given 10 million dollars in August to "America Coming Together." ACT is one of the pseudo-parties created (often referred to as 527's, after their section of the new tax code) to get around the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law that made it illegal for Fat Cats to give huge sums directly to a political party. By refusing to adhere to the limit imposed by public funding, Dean is now free to accept large contributions through this loophole.

At his home in Westchester, N.Y., Soros early on raised $115,000 from his friends for candidate Dean. According to the Washington Post, the Soros campaign for Dean began last summer with the help of Mort Halpern, a liberal think tank veteran. "Soros invited Democratic strategists to his house in Southampton, Long Island," including Clinton chief of staff John D. Podesta, Clinton Advisors Jeremy Rosner and Robert Boorstin, and Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club.

They discussed the coming election. Standing on the back deck, "the evening sun angling into their eyes," Soros took aside Steve Rosenthal, CEO of America Coming Together and former political director of the AFL-CIO, and Ellen Malcolm, its president and founder and donor of Emily's List. After his announcement of the $10m, "They were ready to kiss me," Soros quipped.

Other Fat Cat guests followed his lead. Before coffee the next morning, his friend Peter Lewis, chairman of the Progressive Corp., had pledged $10 million to ACT. Rob Glaser, founder and CEO of RealNetworks, promised $2 million. Rob McKay, president of the McKay Family Foundation, gave $1 million and benefactors Lewis and Dorothy Cullman committed $500,000. Soros also promised up to $3 million to Podesta's new think tank, the Center for American Progress.

The Neo-Cen attack on Ralph Nader has been welcomed by unreconstructed social and liberal democrats who have long been critics of the Green Party and independent political action. Michael Tomasky, executive editor of the American Prospect, wrote a piece for the L.A. Times Book Review titled *A Lesson for the Left: Go to the Aid of the Party* on Nov. 9, 2003. He reviewed two books by radical intellectuals, G. William Domhoff's Changing the Powers That Be: How the Left Can Stop Losing and Win, and James Weinstein's The Long Detour: The History and Future of the American Left.

Both books are monuments to the new revisionism transforming the most trenchant critics of co-optation in the 1960s. Considered ultra-left then, they are masters of the back-flip in the new century. Through many books, like Fat Cats and Democrats, Domhoff hammered home the reality that the corporate rich dominate both the Republican and Democrat Parties and that grass roots insurgencies were inevitably co-opted. I was one of many students who took up that thesis in a paper I wrote that Domhoff approved on the Fund for the Republic. Weinstein showed that Progressive politics in both mainstream parties were aimed at co-opting and deflecting the Socialist Party in its heyday.

The Neo-Cens have been joined by any number of former leftist revolutionaries like Carl Davidson and Angela Davis. The Green Party is split between Neo-Cens who previously touted the line *Neither Right nor Left, but out in Front," to those who are supporting the intransigent Ralph Nader and/or Peter Camejo for President. Camejo says, *The Green Party is under enormous pressure and attacks, including some from liberal or progressive Democrats. I consider the campaign against Ralph Nader and the Green Party part of the same anti-democracy campaign that includes the Patriot Act....*

The division could weaken the Green Party and perhaps result in its demise. On the other hand, if the counter-revisionists rally to their own Party, this could be a real turning point in U.S. politics, which the election of any of the democrats would not be.

Business Week on Aug. 11, 2003 wrote that *Dean had a knack for positioning himself and never lost an election. Those who know him best believe Dean is moving to the left to boost his chances of winning the nomination." If he wins the nomination, he'll run back to the center. A Vermont political scientist says: *Howard is not a liberal. He's a pro-business Rockefeller Republican."

If Howard Dean wins the nomination and puts Wesley Clark on the ticket, as he planned before Clark himself entered the race, the final days of September and October 2004 could be a real awakening for the left. Or perhaps a bestirring of the ghost of the Rockefeller vision of a genuine Internationale of the bourgeoisie. The General, after all, has been a central figure in one of Soros' most influential institutions, the International Crisis Group.

Founded in 1986 as a private multinational organization "committed to strengthening the capacity of the international community to understand and respond to impending crises," the ICG comprises numerous ex-politicians, diplomats and representatives of business and the media.

Beside the Open Society Institute, foundation and private sector donors include The Atlantic Philanthropies, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Ford Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc., John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The John Merck Fund, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Ploughshares Fund, The Ruben & Elisabeth Rausing Trust, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, the Sarlo Foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund and the United States Institute of Peace.

George Soros would have a great deal of influence over a Dean-Clark Administration, but particularly so in the international context. For that vision to be achieved, the Neo-Centrics are needed to steer the former Nader voters and the independent left back into the Democratic Party. Soros is a past master at forging unlikely alliances, and the odds seem to be moving in his favor once again.

 © Copyright By Walt Contreras Sheasby, <[email protected] > 2003  For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .